M.J. Fiori's Reviews > Imperial Bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
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Jun 25, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: so-trashy, actually-reviewed, coulda-shoulda-woulda
Read in June, 2010

I expect to be able to read YA fiction in under three hours (or a Charlaine Harris book), but not literary fiction. This slim, flimsy novel is not a worthy followup - especially after three decades - to that eighties-Zeitgeist-capturing classic, Less Than Zero. The characters have not aged well, natch; but much more seriously, their creator seems to have regressed in trying to invoke them again. While the jaded narrative voice of Clay (as an Alice who made the mistake of staying too long in the shallow Wonderland of L.A.) is still pitch-perfect, other characters remain mere wisps or stand-ins. Blair is a cardboard cutout; everything having to do with Julian can be summed up by the single word "desperate."

Actually, the main character here is L.A., but Ellis has nothing new or interesting or particularly current to contribute to the inordinate cultural output already devoted to our own American Gomorrah. Similarly, Ellis loves to compare himself to Raymond Chandler, but his work is nothing like Chandler's. So the city-as-character shtick is anemic and unforthcoming, while Ellis' attempt to persuade us that he is writing in a vein of "contemporary noir" falls flat. In fact, there is no mystique or enigma here, no sense of urgency about the story's forward momentum or its characters' arcs. This is not a thriller or a character study; worst of all, it has nothing lucid to say about our modern age. Whatever one's opinion of Ellis and his style, it must be argued that his early works did capture some essential, postmodern malaise that seemed to infect twentysomethings of the eighties. His name and his early books will always be at home in any conversation about that decade of brand-new MTV, cocaine-fed trustafarian culture, and disaffected youth left flat by the failure of the Age of Aquarius. Here, the only real mystery has to do with Rain (who is just too dumb, dull and grasping to be quite believable as a plot-driving character): What exactly ARE the personal merits that make it possible for her to seduce nearly every male character in Greater L.A.? Nothing that could possibly explain her charm is to be found in the pages of this book. I'm disappointed. I demand a sequel to The Rules of Attraction!
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message 1: by Noah (new) - rated it 1 star

Noah Doucette Thank you! Rain was such a lame character.


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